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The secret, if you can’t start, is to begin without constraints. It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people, it’s fear of not writing well; something quite different.
Writers often write about writing, a trick few arts can follow; so reflective motivation from writers is easy to find. Do you imagine Olympic sprinters wake up and immediately sprint around the house?
Of course not (unless they drank too much the night before). I imagine what things the finished work would answer, how it would do it and I write it down.
28 2006 (#54) Writing is easy, it’s quality that’s hard.
Any idiot who knows 5 words can write a sentence (e.g. It might be without grammar, broken, or inaccurate but it is still writing.
Don’t depend on these (as the more you use, the less they work, except for the last one), but occasionally they’re the only way. The next day, terrified as I was to return, I created a second document, called “My Novel – notes”. It was a hard core rule: If I had any idea at any time, I wrote it down immediately. I’d think of snippets of dialog, lines of narrative, names for characters, or bits of plot, and stick them in, rarely looking at the previous bits.
And in there I wrote down every idea that came to me about what might be in the novel. Eventually I had enough material to psyche myself up for the dive back into “My novel” as it wasn’t a blank page anymore. Groan at the pretentious ones (there will be many).
If you can’t get started, your psychology is making the challenge bigger than you can handle. It doesn’t matter what the words are, but get them down. The voice in our heads is always saying something, so put it down.
Thinking of the book, the chapter, the page, the paragraph, is all too big if while you’re thinking, the page remains blank. It can be any word, but you have to choose it, and put it down. Write the lyrics to the song on the radio, the names of people you’ve slept with, your favorite Dr. Once all the magic muscles in your little fingers get going, you’ll soon find yourself, in between rounds of one fish blue fish, writing some intelligent things. Return to the unit of writing anyone can do, and build up again. Writer-weenies call this free writing, implying something unfortunate about other kinds of writing, but I find it easier to think of as listening. I’ve found that if you tell bartenders you’re a writer, after they stop laughing, they’ll happily chat and occasionally give you free drinks. Perhaps I’m insane, but I talk to myself all the time, and sometimes I even like the answers.
While it’s true that good voice, tone, rhythm, ideas and grammar are essential to good writing, they’re never introduced all at once.
I promise you, the first draft of Strunk and White didn’t follow Strunk and White. Anyone who wrote yesterday can write today, it’s just a question of if they can do it to their own satisfaction.